Brooklyn’s Contemporary Design Scene

by Karen LeBlanc

Brooklyn has a thriving and prolific community of artists, artisans, craftspeople, and designers that puts it on par with other hubs of craftsmanship around the world. Products bearing the Brooklyn-Made certification are coveted by collectors and design aesthetes interested in authenticity and the backstory of pieces they acquire. Once a year, the borough showcases its maker community in an event known as Brooklyn Designs, now in its 15th year presented by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and co-produced with Novità Communications.

The borough’s rich design heritage, iconic style, and bustling creative community are rooted in time-honored techniques and contemporary style, a mix of old and new in small batch and limited run production. In an age of mass-produced, disposable consumer goods, Brooklyn makers return us to the value of something well-built, by hand with heart. Here’s a look at some of my favorite design finds from emerging designers and established brands.

The Platonic Lounge Chair by Francis Assadi Design Studio

The Platonic Lounge Chair by Francis Assadi Design Studio

Francis Assadi draws inspiration from his background in film, photography and design and his work with Lebanese craftsmen. His latest collection fuses a love for the modern with the aesthetic sensibilities of various cultures.

The Warren Lounge and Q Table by Token

The Warren Lounge and Q Table by Token

 Token draws on the European Arts and Crafts movement, Chinese landscape painting and Abstract Expressionism to produce unique, atelier-style furniture.

Caterpollar bench and layered oval coffee table by Shuya Design

Caterpollar bench and layered oval coffee table by Shuya Design

Emerging brand Shuya Design creates custom furniture that combines wood, marble and other materials in unconventional ways.

Handcrafted furniture designed and built by Ottra. Photographed by John Muggenborg.

Handcrafted furniture designed and built by Ottra. Photographed by John Muggenborg.

Brooklyn is also known for its concentration of architect-turned-product designers including Ot/tra that creates hand-crafted furniture complementing its architecture practice.

Torsion table by Foundrywood

Torsion table by Foundrywood

Fitchwork is another Brooklyn contemporary maker standout for its ornamental pendants sintered from powdered nylon. 

Array lamp by Fitchwork

Array lamp by Fitchwork

Quiet Town, Inc. creates stylish shower curtains using ethical, quality materials including 100 percent, 10-ounce cotton milled in the USA. The co-founders created the company because “they were tired of buying pieces they needed but didn’t love.”

Marfa Shower Curtains by Quiet Town

Marfa Shower Curtains by Quiet Town

The 2018 edition took place at the Brooklyn Museum, kicking off the first weekend of NYCxDESIGN from May 12-13. 

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